How do you know when it’s time for a career change?
We all hate Mondays. That’s the one thing that seems to be a universal commonality. Unless you’re one of the rare few that is so in love with their job that they shout ‘yay’ when their alarm goes off instead of ‘ughhhhh’. But for those of you who are over here in the ‘I hate Monday’s club’, how do we know when our hatred goes a little beyond the norm and we need to consider a new job?
How many of you are actually in - or at least working towards - the job you dreamed of doing when you were a kid? When I was 6 I wanted to be a clown, thankfully I had a change of heart. Not many of us actually end up in the jobs we saw ourselves in. That doesn't mean we gave up on our dream or didn't work hard enough, it means we took opportunities as they came at us and we followed a path that was different from the one our ten year old self planned. We mold our careers as we go, and sometimes we go a little off course but we might just stumble into something we love along the way.
Careers aren't set in stone. As humans we are always growing and evolving. Our priorities change, our views change, even our skills might change. As you grow and learn about yourself, you might find the job you had in your early twenties is completely unsuitable for your 27 year old self. And that’s ok. Our twenties are for making mistakes, for taking chances, for falling down and getting back up again.
This is relevant to everything we do in life: we go on date after date until we find a good match, so why can't we do the same with our careers? I’m by no means suggesting you become a job hopper and change jobs every month, but - just like in dating - you should ‘never settle’ for less than what you want when it comes to your career. Why stay in a job that makes you unhappy or doesn't satisfy you anymore, when there are so many more opportunities out there? It’s never too late to change things up.
So how do you know if it’s time to shake things up professionally?
You are no longer getting anything out of your current job.
If you have reached a point in your current role where you feel like there is nothing left for you to learn, or no room for you to progress, then it’s likely time to look elsewhere. Some of us need to be constantly challenged to stay satisfied. If you are bored at work and you don’t feel like you’re being pushed or challenged anymore then it might be time to make a move.
It causes you so much stress you are unhappy at work and out of work.
Stress is always going to come with work at times and some jobs are of course more stressful than others. The important thing is that the benefits outweigh the stress. Does reaching your end goal alleviate the stress and make it all worth it? Or is the stress something that is constant and overwhelming, to a point where you can’t even switch off at the weekends? If your job is negatively and chronically impacting your overall happiness, then maybe it’s time to do something about it.
You think you are capable of much more.
No one is going to get handed the role of Company Director on a plate. We need to work for it, prove ourselves and normally we have to start at the bottom to do so. However, in climbing the ladder it’s important that you feel like your potential is being recognised. If you’re still filing papers and making coffee after years of trying to be noticed, then it is probably time to take your talents elsewhere.
You’re constantly wishing you were doing something else.
And I don't mean you are sat at your desk wishing you were at the pub, because I can’t help you there. I mean you are constantly wishing you had chosen another career. Maybe you have always regretted not following your dream. Some dreams are meant to stay as dreams, like me being a clown, but some are meant to be followed. If you are sat at work everyday wondering what it would be like if you became a chef, or opened your own shop, then maybe you need to find out. I’m not saying quit your job right now and enroll in culinary school - we have to be smart people! But, if your dream career is something that has never gone away, then perhaps it’s time to try and make it a reality - even if you begin by exploring it as a side hustle.
You experience absolutely no joy at work.
It’s unrealistic to think that everyone loves their jobs, that we all prance around our work place with a spring in our steps and a smile on our face. But I do believe that the thing you do 5 days a week, 8 hours a day should bring you at least a little joy. Even if you only find joy in the small things. Maybe it’s your colleagues, or the view from your office. Maybe it’s the delicious food they give you for free, or the great tips you make. Look for things that make you smile everyday at work - you might find that, with this newfound optimism, your whole perspective on work changes and you start to enjoy your job. Or, you’ll realise that it’s completely not right for you, and that it’s time to go get your joy somewhere else.
Changing jobs is a big decision and it’s not something we all have the luxury of doing on a whim - but remember you aren't stuck! Taking the leap can be scary, especially if you are settled and comfortable where you are. But sometimes the hardest decisions we make in life lead to the best outcomes. Chances are you will have many more jobs in your lifetime, maybe you’ll even completely change your career. And it’s okay to make mistakes, to take the wrong job, to make a slightly questionable career move, or to realise what you are no good at. This is the time to do it! Use these years wisely, use them to fail, to learn and to experiment until you find the career path that means you hit the snooze button one less time! Remember - you are in charge of your future!